Ukie Calls for £8m Budget Boost for UK games

09 March 2015 - London, United Kingdom – Games trade body submits nine proposals to the Treasury to support the growth of the UK games industry

Ahead of Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget announcement on 16 March, games trade body Ukie have put forward nine proposals to The Treasury which they would like to see implemented to further strengthen the UK games industry. The proposals expand on the five recommendations set out in Ukie’s Blueprint for Growth report, launched in November 2015.

The nine proposals put forward by Ukie are:

£8m new public investment for games - As per proposals submitted by Ukie to DCMS and HM Treasury ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review in November 2015, we believe extra funding of £8m through National Lottery receipts should support original UK video games talent.

Give clear mandate to support games in games cluster LEPs - Emerging Local Enterprise Partnership structures will be crucial to promoting games clusters across the country through support for skills, workspace and regional grants.  However, access to funding and links with LEPs often lack clarity and as such are resource-intensive for our members to engage with.  To promote the creative industries outside of London, government should ensure that LEPs serving video games clusters all have a clear mandate to support the games industry.

Avoid additional Immigration Skills Charge - Access to global talent is crucial to maintain competitiveness in this worldwide market and to fend off competition from mainland Europe, especially Berlin. Further moves to tighten the Tier 2 visa system, particularly the introduction of a £1,000 per visa per year Immigration Skills Charge, would damage the UK offer for FDI from global companies and for promising start-ups looking to expand rapidly.

Ensure Apprenticeship Levy is flexible enough for games industry – we estimate the games industry will pay close to £2m per annum for the new Levy.  The new apprenticeship development and accreditation system is considered at worst unworkable and at best does not represent value-for-money.  The Levy will be payable before effective standards have been developed for the industry due to rules and timescales set out by BIS. We recommend that levy funding is used for developing new standards applicable to the games industry so that employers in games will be able to spend their digital vouchers effectively in 2016/17.  In the alternative, the lifespan of the vouchers should be extended until standards are in place.   

Invest in creative computing teaching – Remedies for the skills gaps identified in the 2011 Next Gen report and subsequent studies, such as the House of Lords Committee on Digital Skills, require long-term investment in teacher training.  The government has made massive advances in curriculum reform but there remain issues with primary, secondary and further education. The Digital Schoolhouse model, developed by the London Schools Excellence Fund and Ukie, works with schools and universities to develop play-based programming and computational thinking into lessons in a wider range of subjects.  Ukie aspires to develop this model in all 12 games clusters to tackle teacher shortages and spur interest with girls and disadvantaged groups and seeks government support to do so.

Extend Video Games Tax Relief – Recent figures from the BFI show the positive impact that the Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) is having on growing the UK industry. With re-notification of the relief to the European Commission due in 2017, Ukie would welcome discussions with HM Treasury to secure the extension of the Relief.

Lobby on Digital Single Market proposals – Recent Digital Single Market proposals on the online sale of digital content, whilst well-intended, fail to recognise how games and other digital content are developed and made available to the public.  As currently drafted, they risk confusing consumer law for business and consumers. We call on the UK to take a strong stance in negotiations to protect the UK's vital digital sector.

Explore innovation incentives - HM Treasury should examine how innovation incentives can be used in emerging High-Value Opportunities like virtual reality or eSports, to allow the UK to capture the financial and cultural benefits these will generate.   

Promote more High-Value Opportunities - Progress has been made since UKTI created a High Value Opportunity (HVO) Taskforce for the sector in 2013, which aims to support 100 prequalified, internationally capable creative sector SMEs to win £500m worth of high value overseas contracts by 2016-17. Ukie believes more needs to be done to source relevant opportunities for creative businesses within and beyond infrastructure projects and to engage companies right across the supply chain, particularly SMEs. 

You can read the entirety of Ukie’s 2016 Budget Submission here.

By submitting these proposals, Ukie hopes to boost exports, jobs and growth across the country by creating an environment where games and interactive entertainment businesses can thrive. Research for the Blueprint for Growth report demonstrates that supportive action for the recommendations in the report will lead to a £1bn annual boost in turnover for the games industry by 2020, adding 13,000 jobs in the process. The proposals for the budget are set out by Ukie as stepping stones towards this goal.

Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, said, “With these targeted proposals that we set out in our Blueprint for Growth, we believe we can create the best environment for growth within the games industry and wider digital economy. We are already a world-class sector, but with the right support we can secure our talent pipeline, maintain a stable regulatory environment, and help companies continue to innovate and scale so we can be a true global leader for games and interactive entertainment.”

 

-ENDS-

 

Contacts
For all press enquiries, please contact press@ukie.org.uk

About Ukie
The Association for United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment or Ukie (pronounced YOU-KEY) is a trade body that aims to support, grow and promote the whole of the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry. Founded in 2010 (although formerly known as ELSPA), Ukie’s membership includes all the major UK and global games publishers and the best of UK development talent - from promising start-ups to some of the biggest, most successful studios operating in the UK today.

Ukie works with government to champion a range of issues including age ratings, education and skills, access to finance and protecting intellectual property rights. It also works with the media to ensure true and accurate representation of the sector by raising awareness of the industry’s positive economic contribution and the societal benefits of gaming to policy makers, regulators and consumers.

Some of the campaigns Ukie has been working on include the next gen skills campaign which pushed for computer science to be put back onto the national curriculum, Askaboutgames.com - a website where families can learn about playing games safely and sensibly and Ukie Student Membership which bridges the gap between education and industry for students leaving higher education.

Website: ukie.org.uk
Twitter: @uk_ie
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